Having Kittens

12 Mar

African Black-Footed Cat

I don’t usually hold with Caturday traditions, but I ran across a new article on science rock-star Betsy Dresser, and her gene bank operations, which I thought was worth mentioning.

(The felines in this post’s photos are African Black-Footed cats, but are not of the litter discussed below.)

The latest rare wildcat kittens at a New Orleans conservation center were born from embryos frozen before Hurricane Katrina.

The two male African black-footed cats are among the world’s smallest felines. They’ll grow to about one-third the size of the average housecat.


What caught my eye was the combination of easy transportation/storage, and the fact that these mini-leopards are 1/3rd the size of most housecats.

Fact: people love things that are tiny.

Will the African Black-Footed Cat be the boutique pet of tomorrow? Is this the next step towards genetic engineering for the masses?

Scientists in Omaha, Neb., collected and froze the father’s sperm in 2003. At the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, it was combined in March 2005 with eggs from a black-footed cat in the center’s collection.

The embryos were kept frozen until December. On Dec. 7, the thawed embryo was implanted into a second female black-footed cat. The kittens, which don’t yet have names, were born Feb. 13.


Male African Black-Footed Cat sharpens his claws - http://www.wildcatconservation.org/Black-footed-Cats.html

14 Responses to “Having Kittens”

  1. Winnie March 12, 2011 at 13:44 #

    I don’t normally say this of cats because I don’t really like them but… I want one!

  2. Nuchtchas@gmail.com March 12, 2011 at 14:04 #


    Yeah, I’d love one, but I only adopt, I don’t go for pure bred, still awwwww

    I wonder if it will be like how Bengal Cats are bred with domestic cats to create a domestic bengal cat? The zoo/sanctuary near me has a retired breeding pair of bengal cats, they are sooo cute I could see taking them into the house, but they are still wild.

    • JRD Skinner March 13, 2011 at 09:18 #

      They are definitely beautiful cats. Is the zoo/sanctuary all cast-off exotic pets?

  3. bmj2k March 12, 2011 at 19:29 #

    One of the best things I saw at the London zoo was a baby tiger. It was prowling around on end of its enclosure (right were I was) carrying a chunk of ribs not too much smaller than the one that tilted over Fred Flintstone’s car. I should dig it out for a future Picture Postcard. Cute but deadly.

  4. Mac of BIOnighT March 12, 2011 at 20:26 #

    I definitely hope they won’t become the pets of tomorrow (actually, my hope for tomorrow is that no animal will be a pet), but this sound svery promising in terms of helping to preserve an endangered species. I hope it’ll be used in the right way…

    • JRD Skinner March 13, 2011 at 09:48 #

      Understood; I think certain types of animals have evolved to live alongside us – I don’t think, for example, that my ridiculous cat would do well in the wild – but I also feel like our use for domesticated animals (mousing, guarding the campsite,) are diminishing or morphing.

      I could definitely see a pet-less tomorrow, but, if it happens, I suspect it will be related to replacing our mutts and kitties with more useful robot “pets”.

      • bmj2k March 13, 2011 at 18:23 #

        Now now, we’ve all seen Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. We know just where this is going.

        Uses for domesticated animals are one thing, and those animal roles will likely diminish in the first world (though still a necessity in the third) but pets serve a different role- companionship. And that is why we will always have pets. Robo-pets may be fun, but until they can also give “love” the living, breathing kind is here to stay. And don’t underestimate the “cute” factor. Scientific research shows that humans and certain other animals respond to the “big eyes, big paws” juvenile cuteness and speculate that animal cuteness is an evolutionary byproduct that keeps young animals safe so they can mature- they are too cute to kill.

        At any rate, this isn’t just a human-led relationship. Dogs more or less domesticated themselves. They evolutionarily threw their lot in with humans centuries ago to reap the benefits of easy access to food and protection in a primitive era when neither of them was easy to come by. It began by foraging for scraps by a cooking fire, then moving into the humans shelter. (There have been definite drawbacks for the dogs as a species but that is another topic.) There are also known cases of animals having pets- mostly higher primates, but also other mammals. Pets are never going away. I don’t see the issue with owning pets anyway, assuming that the pets are well cared for.

        Certain animals should not be pets, of course. Cute or not, rabbits are not adapted to be pets. The mini-animal in the post, I assume, would make a lousy pet because it still has wild animal instincts. And keeping one as a pet would be cruel.

        • JRD Skinner March 13, 2011 at 18:58 #

          Agreed all around. Dogs, although generally pleasant to have around, also double as an alarm system, deterrent, and, occasionally, vacuum.

          Cats too serve a purpose – or, they did, at least, at our previous residence, which was essentially a farmhouse.

          I propose this cat as a possible future-pet partially on what Nutty mentions above – that you can sort of fudge domestication by crossbreeding with a non-wild breed, as is done with the Bengal. I’ve heard the results can still be problematic, but I’m sure so were early dogs, cows, etc.

          As an aside to this discussion, this wee bugger falls into a similar area of discussion:

          Ethical to own & mass produce?

          • bmj2k March 13, 2011 at 19:25 #

            I don’t think much of scientifically controlled cross-breeding. They create animals with screwed up psychologies generally unable to exist in the wild or do anything but what they have been bred to do. Let an animal be an animal. Cross-breeding in the wild works along the lines of Darwinism and evolution and is a different thing than what is being done in labs.

            Some animals thrive as pets and we have enough dog and cat overpopulation already. Why add more?

  5. Mac of BIOnighT March 13, 2011 at 19:00 #

    I’ll keep it short: “Oh, I love my little, cute cat so much, he’s really like a member of my family to me! Well, of course I had his balls cut off, so he doesn’t leave the house to follow the primary instincts that would make his life worth living, and naturally I had his claws amputated so he doesn’t damage my couch, but oh, I love him so musch you wouldn’t believe it!”
    Right, in fact I don’t believe it, love can have many forms, but this is NOT one of them. This is the kind of pet I hope will disappear, not to mention that the very word “pet” starts from the assumption of one race’s superiority over another. Sure, dogs are even pathological in their dependence, but I wouldn’t swear it was their choice, it’s always looked like a colossal Stockholm syndrome to me…
    I hope for the day people and animals will live side by side, as equals.
    End of my daily rant ;-P

    • bmj2k March 13, 2011 at 19:20 #

      My defense of owning pets will never include declawing or altering an animal in any way. Spaying, neutering included.

      That said, I certainly do believe in humanity’s superiority over the animals. That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect them and have extreme compassion for them, and it certainly doesn’t include mistreatment in any form. And while I would certainly run into a fire to rescue my dog, and in a flood I’d save my cat over a convicted killer, I stand firm that humans are superior to animals.

      And please don’t take this an argument. I respect your pov and I’m not going to try to change it. This is just a statement.

      • Mac of BIOnighT March 13, 2011 at 20:29 #

        I believe that any living being that destroys its own environment is too dumb to be superior to any other creature, but this is just my opinion and I most definitely do not take yours as an argument, no prob πŸ˜‰

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